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Apple unveils watchOS 5 with more health features, Walkie-Talkie functionality

by Brandon Russell | June 4, 2018June 4, 2018 11:19 am PST

The Apple Watch has been one of Apple’s most consistent products since its announcement a few years ago, with improvements every year on its health features.

This year, with watchOS 5, Apple is introducing a feature that will allow friends to challenge each other to a 7-day competition, workout support for Yoga, Hiking, and more. These social aspects will make the Apple Watch an even more enticing option for families and friends, because it will push people to casually compete in a healthy way.

If you do use the Apple Watch as your primary workout device, the wearable will finally automatically detect once you start a workout, so you no longer have to start an app just to start tracking. It’ll also auto-detect the end of a workout, too.

Beyond improved health functionality, the Apple Watch is becoming a better daily communication device. With a new Walkie-Talkie feature, you can use the wearable like a walkie-talkie, sending friends and family quick voice messages right from the device. The feature will work over either cellular or Wi-Fi, no phone required.

The Siri watch face is also getting some improvements, with sports, maps, and heart rate information. The watch face will also support Siri actions and web links; you don’t get a full browser, but you can click on links that people send you.

Apple is also bringing Podcasts to watchOS 5, a feature that’s been a long time coming. That’ll go really nicely with a set of AirPods. Additionally, Apple said Siri will work by simply raising your wrist; no more saying, “Hey Siri.” That’ll be appreciated by people who use the Apple Watch to send messages or launch apps.

Finally, watchOS 5 will support Student ID cards. So, with the rise of their wrist, students can easily gain access to the library, dorms, events, and more. You can add your Student ID to Apple’s Wallet app. At launch, universities such as Duke, the University of Alabama, and the University of Oklahoma will support the new feature.

Apple didn’t unveil any new big Apple Watch redesigns, but perhaps we’ll see that this fall. Apple said watchOS 5 will launch as a free update later this year.

Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell likes to rollerblade while listening to ACDC.